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For example, the SHA-256 of this term BUTTERFLY (origin ) is 8c62ace4f9ef8ccd08ca6fb992a8524bb7dbdc0530654bd254c9da07a660949a (HASH). This seemingly random string of letters and numbers contains three important properties:

Bitcoin mining involves three factors: the cube, the mining issue and a random number. Heres how it all comes together:

Imagine our block consists of the term BUTTERFLY discussed earlier. In fact, the cube would contain a list of recent, unverified transactions, but lets keep it simple. In order for the block to be solved, bitcoin uses a deceptively simple test: If the HASH result of the block begins with a certain number of zeros, then the block is considered verified.

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For our example, lets say that we've a mining difficulty of just two, ie, our HASH must begin with two zeros. .

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The difficulty: BUTTERFLY will always return the exact same HASH, and it doesnt start with two zeros. Thus what we need is the next factor, a random number (known as a NONCE). We take this number, combine it with BUTTERFLY, and HASH again. If it doesnt begin with two zeros, we change the number and try again, and because changing one little number changes the entire HASH outcome, there's absolutely no way to predict the number well need to address this! .

We repeat this process over and over until we find a number that, when combined with BUTTERFLY, gives us a HASH that starts with two zeros. That number is your solution to the block. Here are some attempts:

This arduous process of randomly trying to find a number that gives the solution is what creates bitcoin mining such a computationally expensive procedure, and as more miners join the network, the harder it gets. At November 2017, a normal home computer working alone, ie, not an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and not a part of a cloud mining network, could require 2.7 million years to mine one block. .

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This has caused the rise of ASIC computers constructed specifically for mining and to an increase in cloud mining.

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CPU mining. In the early days of bitcoin, mining difficulty was reduced and not a great deal of miners were competing for cubes and rewards. This made it rewarding to use your computers own central processing unit (CPU) to mine bitcoin. However, that strategy was soon replaced by GPU mining.

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GPU mining. An graphics processing unit (GPU) is a potent processor whose sole objective is to help your computers graphics card in rendering 3D graphics. GPUs are not constructed for executive decisions (such as CPUs) however to be very great labourers, hence GPUs are able to execute over 800 times more instructions in the same amount of time as a CPU.

FPGA mining. Next came mining using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These significantly outperformed GPUs and CPUs in the mining procedure as FPGAs are chips which can be programmed to perform certain instructions and only those instructions (instead of being repurposed for mining, such as GPUs were).

ASIC mining. Similar to FPGAs, application-specific integrated circuits are chips designed for a particular function, in our case mining bitcoin, and nothing else. ASICs for bitcoin were introduced in 2013 and, as of November 2017, they are find here the best processors available for mining bitcoin and they outperform FPGAs in power consumption. .

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Mining pools. To offset the difficulty of mining a block, miners started organising in cloud or pools mining networks. Whenever a miner in one of those pools simplifies a cube, the reward is shared with everyone in the swimming pool in a ratio representative of how much work you put into the pool (even though you personally never solved the puzzle). .

Cloud mining. Clouds offer prospective miners the capability to purchase mining channels in a remote data centre location. There are many obvious advantages, the most obvious beingno electricity costs, no excess heat and nothing to market when you opt to hang your digital pickaxe.

Once miners get bitcoin, they are given a virtual key to the bitcoin addresses. You can use this electronic key to access and confirm or approve transactions.

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Desktop pockets. Software such as Bitcoin Core allows you to send and save bitcoin addresses and also connects to the network to track transactions.

Online wallets. Bitcoin keys are saved online by exchange platforms such as Coinbase or Circle and can be accessed from anywhere.

Mobile wallets. Programs like Blockchain shop and encrypt your bitcoin keys so you can make payments using your mobile device.

Paper wallets. Some websites provide paper wallet services, generating a bit of paper with just two QR codes on it. One code is the public address where you receive bitcoin and the other is the private address you can use for spending.

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